Cleopatra Records 2019
Review by David Bowling
Mitch Ryder is best known for his series of rock/blue-eyed soul hit singles during the mid to late 1960’s. Songs such as “Devil With The Blue Dress On,” “Sock It To Me Baby,” “Jenny Take A Ride,” and “Too Many Fish In The Sea” helped define AM radio rock of the era.
Ryder, with his band The Detroit Wheels and as a solo artist, has continued to record and tour for the last 50 years. His newest release is titled Detroit Breakout.
Each of the 14 tracks has a guest artist. Lee Oskar, Cherie Currie, Joe Lewis Walker, Brian Auger, Sylvain Sylvain, and Linda Gail Lewis are some of the artists who lend a hand. The problem is they are buried in the mix many times. The engineering problems continue as there is a disconnect between the vocals and the instrumental backing. It feels as if the vocals were recorded separately and pasted over the instrumental tracks and they don’t quite match.
The good news is Ryder’s voice is still formidable. It can be over the top or fairly sedate and subtle depending on the song.
The song choice is eclectic. The Standells “Dirty Water” fits his style but the Monkees “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” not so much. The Capital’s “Cool Jerk,” Jim Croce’s “Bad Bad Leroy Brown,” Roy Orbison’s “Dream Baby,” and a surprisingly excellent cover of the folk song “If I Had A Hammer” are hit and miss.
His covers of classic soul songs benefit from Ryder’s understated vocals. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” with Arthur Adams on guitar, The Temptations “Just My Imagination” featuring Lee Oscar on harmonica, and Sam Cooke’s Classic “You Send Me” with Linda Gail Lewis present the soft and smooth side of his music.
Detroit Breakout has its good and not so good points, but at its foundation, his voice shines through. The material may not match his classics but when he is good, he is still very good.